Sep 30, 2013

    Sub Courts reviewing security measures

    THE Subordinate Courts of Singapore is reviewing its security protocol, after a man was found with two penknife blades in a courtroom two weeks ago.

    Sources told My Paper that Rajan Govindasamy, 51, was before a district judge in a pre-trial conference on Sept 19 when he was caught with the blades.

    My Paper understands he was later taken away by court guards who were called in.

    Rajan had been in Court 17 at about 4.30pm that day for proceedings on a charge related to an offence committed in July. He had been accused of possessing a knife at Marsiling MRT station on July 10, according to court documents obtained by My Paper. The knife had a 6cm-long blade.

    He was charged under the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act. If convicted, he faces a jail term of up to two years.

    For possessing the penknife blades, Rajan was charged under the Corrosive and Explosive Substances and Offensive Weapons Act on Sept 21. If convicted, he could be jailed for up to three years and receive at least six strokes of the cane.

    It is not known how Rajan came to possess the penknife blades in court, or how he was caught.

    A spokesman for the Subordinate Courts told My Paper on Friday that it is reviewing its security protocol together with its security service providers, to "prevent similar incidents from occurring".

    The spokesman said: "Ensuring the safety of our court users and staff is always our top priority."

    Lawyers told My Paper that security at the courts' entrance has been beefed up since the incident. One lawyer, who declined to be named, visited the court last week and had her bag put through an X-ray scanner three times. She was also asked to verify the number of mobile devices she had in it.

    A security professional, who did not want to be named, said that security checks at building entrances, in general, can be "cursory" and there is always room for improvement.

    He also noted that "security comes at a price", and the public must understand that inconveniences come with rigid checks.

    Dr Rohan Gunaratna, who heads the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said that, in general, Singapore's security standards are very high, "but there can be lapses".

    Dr Gunaratna added: "No private parties should be allowed to carry weapons in structures such as courthouses, prisons, police stations - buildings of the criminal and justice system."

    Mr James Aruldoss, former president of the Association of Certified Security Agencies, said that a courthouse is "treated as a sensitive area, where judgments are made...and people can become upset".